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Astoria Cruise Review
3.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
64 Reviews

Iceland Land of Ice and Fire: Great except reduced time ashore in first 2 ports.

Astoria Cruise Review by DavidOrr

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2015
  • Destination: the Baltic Sea

In the early stages of our cruise, we had a significant change of port time ashore in both Stornoway and Torshavn.

The full day in each of Stornoway and Torshavn was reduced to just half a day and that was done without any on-board communication or more importantly, any explanation being offered.

Whilst we understand that CMV need to get paying tour guests ashore quickly when at anchor (Stornoway), we think that the maximum number of tenders should be deployed in the early stages, until all passengers who want to go ashore are landed - then the number of tenders can be dropped back later on. We lost over an hour of our reduced time in Stornoway (seeing only 2 of 4 tenders in operation and that from a distant anchorage) and then we were asked back early too, which frankly rankled and made us feel "2nd Class".

The lack of awareness and communication on-board by the cruise management team exacerbated the frustration felt widely on board. On a bridge visit, the Captain confirmed that he had not altered the port times in both Stornoway and Torshavn for any on-board operational or weather reasons.

We lost confidence and our sense of relaxation early in the cruise about the rest of the itinerary being the one that was sold to us. It took time before that sense of being on a carefree holiday returned.

Fantastic front line staff; excellent, courteous and friendly service.

We liked the smaller ship and the friendly atmosphere on board and the itinerary proposed and sold to us.

Conditions allowing MV Azores to get into Heimaey in the Westman Islands and docking in the tiny port, was the highlight of the cruise for us and an impressive bit of pilotage and ship handling, to squeeze in and come out again (unusually stern first all the way).

I have posted a link below to the photos for the day at Heimaey:

https://plus.google.com/photos/109375469948758953851/albums/6159112519882751617

The "middle management" on board was, regrettably, not of the standard set by the front line staff. We had to enquire and chase up several times, the Arctic Circle "crossing the line" certificates. In the end, we had to take a certificate out of a cardboard box and fill it in ourselves on the last day of the cruise! The Arctic Circle crossing was never announced or made anything of - a missed opportunity.

The food standard was generally very high and we certainly ate our fill! A small matter of running out of butter and orange juice before the cruise ended, but we survived!

The organisation of the hot and cold drinks together in the Lotus Grill needs re-engineering, as the existing poor layout caused constant "traffic jams", especially at breakfast on arrival days.

We found 7 days of port arrivals in a row, pretty tiring. We would have paid more for a cruise where the ship stayed two days at both Akureyri (Capital of the North of Iceland) and Reykjavik (the actual capital).

There is so much to do in both places, that one day wasn't enough and it would have been nice to have two days where a return to the ship had no pressure of missing a sailing time!


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Cabin Review

Cabin Standard twin plus 313

Reasonable size cabin with good sized bathroom with full bath & shower.

Good position in rough weather.

Great cabin service - clean & spotless throughout. No need to change towels twice daily - would have liked environmental option for two-three changes in whole trip.

Only one power point to recharge two Pads, one Smartphone and camera batteries. CMV - Put more power points into existing trunking!

Good balance of cost and space and facilities to our limited budget.


Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Akureyri

Hired a car and visited Godafoss falls and Myvatn Lakes etc.

Squeezed in a visit to an old farrnstead dating from 11th century.

Wish ship had stayed two days as so much to do.

Reykjavik

Lots to do and really two days is needed.

Hired a car and did the Golden Circle in reverse (Gullfoss falls, Geysir hot springs and then Thingvellir for fault line and parliament place).

Had time for visit to The Perlan (great view), Hallgrimskirkja cathedral and then a must do to the Concert Hall by the harbour - amazing architecture.

Wish ship had stayed two days - so much to do.

Dublin

Not fans of city tours and loads of English football fans in town for friendly game next day.

Took the DART railway around Dublin Bay to Bray and then back to Howth - 11 euros all day rover ticket - inexpensive, frequent service, clean trains, with wifi - not like England then!


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DavidOrr
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